EU governments agree that “the negative and disruptive effects of the increasingly globalized” economy are having “a major impact on the quality of life of citizens of the Member States,” according to a draft of the legislative proposal.
Two years ago, the European Commission announced it would be launching a study of the issue, commissioned by the EU institutions. The introduction of larger companies, the commission had argued, is opening up new “competing disadvantages” on workers’ participation in society.
The draft proposal includes some ideas about increasing workers’ quality of life and achieving equality, but these aren’t much more than ciphers. What matters is the question of whether the employment regulations that employers currently enjoy in Europe are sufficient to keep their business models in place, and whether this is the result of mass deregulation in the past or its current drivers, the growth of e-commerce and the sharing economy.
One of the main changes that the commission is calling for, beyond the reporting of gender pay gaps, is “allowing companies employing between 25 and 499 workers (the ‘ultra-large companies’) to offer employment contracts with a minimum three months paid leave,” a measure that it hopes will “offer flexibility and create stability” to employers. The proposal also calls for the more general creation of an EU minimum wage, at first with a floor of €8.40 per hour and increasing to €9 per hour in 2022. Currently, most EU members rely on national minimum wages.
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